Three questions with Ben Gartland from The Daily Wiz

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to the home and home format of the Eastern Conference Finals of Major League Soccer I had the pleasure to do a second question exchange with Ben Gartland (@BenGartlandSKC) prior to the second leg in Kansas City.

1) Both teams looked exhausted by about the 60' mark of the 1st leg. What do you think the Houston Dynamo can expect to see from a fresh Sporting Kansas City squad?

Ben: I think that we'll see a renewed attacking style that started to drop off in the second half of the first game. This is the longest break Sporting KC has gotten from game to game since June and I can see a well-rested Sporting KC really turning on the jets in the attacking half. I think the forwards and midfielders will be pushed forward with the fullbacks adding support on the wings, trying to overwhelm the Dynamo through numbers and pressure them into letting up a goal.

Another piece of good news for Sporting KC is that if Houston tries to spring a counter the back four will have fresh legs which could lead to better defense on counters. I'm still upset that Sporting KC didn't get an advantage in the first leg over a dog tired Dynamo team but I feel pretty good going into this week.

2) If you were the Houston Dynamo, how would you approach trying to breakdown the Kansas City back line? Specifically the most hated Spork of them all, Aurelien Collin?

Ben: You can't! The shiny head of Aurelien Collin will blind every man in orange and will lead Sporting KC to victory through the pure awesomeness of his fashion sense!

In actuality the biggest way to attack the back four is to catch the fullbacks off guard and spring a counter, forcing Besler and Collin to race back to try and defend the ball. Houston has a strong enough back line and midfield to keep Sporting KC out of the net, as evidenced by the four games we played this year. If Houston can keep strong in the back, they can probably catch Collin or Besler off guard and force a goal off of a counter while the back line tries to catch up.

Like I said in the first question, the two week break is going to give Sporting fresh legs, which will help them defend counters. However it will also help Houston get their legs back and possibly catch the Sporting back line off guard.

3) On the flip side of that, if you were the Houston Dynamo, how would you approach trying to close off the Kansas City counter?

Ben: If I'm Houston I'm going to stop the Sporting counter by not letting them get comfortable with leaving any spot open. I would have the Houston forwards and midfield press forward, forcing Sporting KC to keep every man possible behind the ball. If we play Dom Dwyer at center forward like I think we are, not letting him get any reason to get behind the Dynamo defense is going to be the way to cut off his speed and ability to strike on a counter. Another way is to neutralize the Sporting wingers by using Ashe and Kofi Sarkodie to hang back and contain an attack down the flank.

No matter who wins the match on Saturday, I really am very excited the Eastern Conference Finals ended up SKC and Houston, as at the end of the day, was there really any other way they could go?

Ben: Third time's the charm, right?

Keep dreaming, Ben...

To read Ben's questions for me as well as my answers, visit The Daily Wiz.

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